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Do heavy keys damage your auto’s ignition?

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Tom and Ray Magliozzi with Car Talk think so, the State of Maine issued an advisory on excessive keyring weight, and GM recalled over 29 million autos in 2014 that were potentially affected by heavy keys and up to 124 deaths may be related.

Auto ignitions are engineered to have a lifespan that matches the rest of the auto; a reasonable period under normal conditions. The engineering team balances weight, cost, function, size and materials. The weight of your keys, and anything else you have attached, is part of that equation. As your vehicle moves down the road, your auto vibrates and shakes. The ignition cylinder receives the key and the cylinder contains the tumblers that bear the brunt of the wear. With a single key or no key, the cylinder and tumblers gets little wear. As the weight of the keys increases, the wear from the auto vibration is amplified by the weight of the keys. Think of a splinter in your finger. It is relatively painless and moves with you until you touch it or it brushes up against some clothing. That is similar to the effect heavy keys have on the ignition cylinder and tumblers.  As the tumblers wear down, they eventually fail to line up properly after key insertion.  This prevents the free rotation of the cylinder and thus,ignition failure.

Are your keys too heavy?  Do you have too much weight on your keychain?  There is no easy answer; rather it is best to minimize the weight on your key chain.

  • Remove all the keys and rings you no longer use.
  • Separate your keys into multiple sets of keys, grouping by function
  • Eliminate your physical loyalty cards by replacing them with a loyalty phone app.  Keyring is a popular choice.  You have other options as well.  Do a little  research to see what is best for your needs.   Leave the plastic at home.
  • Use quick release, quick connect or valet keyring connectors.   All three are names for keyrings that easily separate sets of keys, while allowing you to quickly reconnect them after use.

A lot of people hand us their keys and say “ I love your keyrings, look at mine” displaying their keyring.   Often, those keyrings have a few more keys on them than we envisioned, considering the aforementioned concerns and the aesthetics.  After following the above suggestions, you may still end up with enough weight to create excessive ignition wear.  We wanted to further reduce the stress to the ignition cylinder and our solution incorporated elasticity into the link between the extra keys and the key in the ignition cylinder.  This additional elasticity reduces the stress and wear on the cylinder and ignition.   With that in mind, we designed the Ignition Saver - Stretch™ key lanyard,  a dual elastic band sheathed within a protective synthetic sleeve.  We couple it with a biner clip or a valet quick connect.  The finished product compliments our keyrings and adds two functions.

Simple Nickel Keyring

  • Ignition Saver - Stretch™reduces micro vibration associated with heavier keys
  • The quick connect/ valet allows you easily remove your key from the rest of the keyring.Reducing weight while you are driving or facilitating the easy removal of the auto key for a valet or temporary driver.

We think this is a great product enhancement and we have added it to many of our keyrings. 


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